Funding boost for Staffordshire landscape
Wednesday 21st March 2012
Weaver Hills Meadow. Image: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
More than £1.8million is to be invested into a project to conserve a spectacular landscape in the Staffordshire Moorlands and bring a host of long-term environmental, social and economic benefits.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is awarding the £1.89 million grant to the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP), towards an ambitious £3 million programme to protect, enhance and celebrate an area of more than 49,000 acres fringing the Peak District.
With its flower-rich farmland, plunging wooded valleys, wild rivers and fascinating industrial heritage, the Churnet Valley Living Landscape area is an extremely special part of Staffordshire and it should be protected and celebrated.
The partnership will bring a fantastic range of benefits such as better habitat for lapwings and brown hares through wildflower meadow creation. Woodland will be managed for the benefit of woodland birds, and the wood will be used to start up a local woodfuel economy. Bridges, and adjacent towpaths on the Uttoxeter Canal will be restored. Work to restore the platform and signal box at Leek Brook on the North Staffordshire Railway will also be a priority. The project will offer much-needed training opportunities such as rural apprenticeships for disadvantaged young people, diversification support for businesses and the establishment of a network of walking trails.
Over the last 18 months, the Partnership has produced a Landscape Conservation Action Plan for the area which consists of long-term aspirations for the environment and heritage, together with a four-year plan of community and practical projects.
Guy Corbett-Marshall, chairman of CVLLP and chief executive of lead partner Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are absolutely thrilled at this fantastic news. With its flower-rich farmland, plunging wooded valleys, wild rivers and fascinating industrial heritage, the Churnet Valley Living Landscape area is an extremely special part of Staffordshire and it should be protected and celebrated.
“We’ve been working with the local community since 2010 to develop a huge range of exciting initiatives that will bring major improvements to the natural and built heritage of the Valley, and offer increased economic and social opportunities for young people, businesses and visitors to the area, giving a real boost to the local rural economy.
“We want to show everyone what a wonderful and beautiful place this area is to live in, work in and visit.”
Jill Norman, vice chairman of the partnership and chief officer of Staffordshire Moorlands Community and Voluntary Services, added: “The consultation events that the partnership ran across the Churnet Valley area, from Rudyard to Mayfield and from Caldon to Alton, showed a universal love of the valley and its surroundings, as well as great interest in taking part in activities to make it even better. The delegated grant scheme will enable so many local ideas to turn into wonderful realities and we can't wait to help people get involved."
Reyahn King, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the West Midlands explained further the importance of the award: “Bordering the Peak District National Park, the Churnet Watershed, and the River Dove Floodplain this wonderful rural landscape is connected by the industrial heritage of the area. Landscapes are all around us and have been inspiring people for centuries, whether to write poetry, take photographs, go rambling, ride a bike or just simply to enjoy the view. With this HLF award under the ground-breaking Landscape Partnership Scheme we can help local communities such as those around the Churnet Valley actively get involved and take care of the natural environment around them."
For more information on CVLLP, more detail on the programme of projects and how to get involved, visit the website www.churnet-valley.org.uk or call Guy Corbett-Marshall on 01889 880102.
The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership consists of the following organizations, each of which has signed up to the Partnership through completing a Memorandum of Understanding:
1. British Waterways
2. Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust
3. Churnet Valley Conservation Society
4. East Staffordshire Borough Council
5. English Heritage
6. Lafarge Cement Ltd
7. Natural England
8. North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd
9. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
10. Staffordshire County Council
11. Staffordshire Destination Management Partnership
12. Staffordshire Moorlands Community & Voluntary Services
13. Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
14. Staffordshire Peak District Tourism Association
15. Staffordshire Rural Hub
16. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is the lead partner and brought the group together as a result of the work they have been carrying out in the area over the last ten years, during which time all of these organizations have worked separately and in smaller partnerships with the Trust and each other. This is the first project they have all worked upon as a partnership.
The project area spans from Biddulph Moor in the west to Mayfield in the east and encompasses the Weaver Hills and Ipstones Edge.